Movie review – Azhar – A real life story that entertains
By Joginder Tuteja
When after watching a movie you head for Wikipedia and want to know more about the subject in question, the job is indeed done. This is something that director Tony D’Souza achieves when he brings the story of Azhar on the big screen. He starts the film with a bang, sets the stage at a terrific interval point and then concludes it stupendously well with a pre-climax and climax that don’t allow you to blink at all.
It is on the strength of narrative that Tony adopts for Azhar that you feel truly engaged for most part of the film. Why ‘most’ and not ‘entirely’? Well, because none of the two love stories (with Prachi Desai and Nargis Fakhri) made you feel for either the man or his women. Frankly, you want to know more about Azhar – the cricketer, and the match fixing that happened and the court cases that followed. In that aspect, the film works big time, and how, hence bringing constant twists and turns in the tale.
Now that’s the key strength of Azhar and in that aspect the film opens really well. There is no beating around the bush as it is revealed right at the beginning that Azhar was slapped with the charges of match fixing, hence putting his entire career in jeopardy. You are hooked to the tale and Emraan plays his part amazingly well. The obvious difference in personality between him and Azhar is definitely there but Emraan does well as an actor to make you forget it all, and instead accompany him in his journey as he takes it upon himself (with help of his lawyer friend, played by Kunaal Roy Kapur) to clear his name.
This is when first of the love stories begins and while Prachi Desai does well in the characterization offered to her, one really wants to go back to the cricketing drama. No wonder, the best sequences come when Azhar is made captain and players like Manoj [Karanveer Sharma], Navjot [Manjot Singh], Ravi [Gautam Gulati] and Kapil [Varun Badola] are introduced on the scene. The dressing room conversations, the spats on the field, politics between players – all of it is further accentuated the moment a bookie [Rajesh Sharma] enters the scene. This is the best part of the film, hence leading to an interesting twist.
The second half starts quite well too and the sequence between Lara Dutta (the lawyer who wants to prove Azhar guilty) and Karanveer is truly terrific. Both actors are really good here. However just when things were heading north for Azhar, the introduction of Nargis Fakhri (as Sangeeta Bijalani) slows things down. If only that was a tad short and crisp, it would still have been better. That doesn’t quite happen though as a lot of tears flow, hence ending up focusing more on projecting Azhar’s weakness for the second love in his life and establishing that Sangeeta never wanted to break his marriage. Despite the point being conveyed, it still extends a little more.
Thankfully, Tony brings it all back with the fixing episode back in the game and from this point on there is no looking back. This is also the point where Emraan steps into a ‘heroic zone’ (in Bollywood parlance) and for those looking at him taking his detractors/opponents bang on, there are plenty of ‘seeti maar’ moments. The merging of current court scene with an all-important match that took place more than a decade back is done quite well and you are truly glued to the seats. The film begins to move ahead as a thriller and with many interesting twists thrown during the match, you do like what you see.
Coming to the all-important point of ‘whether Azhar did it’? Well, the answer is revealed right at the end (though you can see it coming) and it pretty much starts off in a black zone, while venturing towards grey and then eventually concluding as all white. That said, it is the movement that happens in the grey zone, which is a very important point ion Azhar’s life. The question that he asks – ‘Agar main us din out ho gaya hota toh?’ is quite pertinent and brings the film to a fitting finale.
Just to know the real truth of Azhar, and the fact that this tale by Tony (and writer Rajat Arora) is brought to life by a solid Emraan Hashmi, go for Azhar.
|Joginder Tuteja tweets @tutejajoginder|